Continuum is to join Jersey tech experts in a week of seminars about the impact of new technologies on financial services. The data analytics provider will show businesses how Artificial Intelligence tools can be used in a practical way in the Island.
We are happy to announce that our charity of the year is MacMillan Cancer Support Jersey.
Within the Alteryx for Good program we are giving away a free Alteryx licence and our time to support local charity and make their work more effective by automating their manual processes.
We are pleased to let you know that we already helped them to build electronic forms instead of the paper ones and we are in the process of building Alteryx workflow to make their annual and monthly reporting and analytics as easy as possible.
If you have any questions or suggestions about this project please let us know.
Thank you to every single person who attended both our Jersey and Guernsey events on "How to Transform Your Business with Data and AI", it was a great success and a lot of fun!
Our sincerest apologies to attendees in Guernsey - we unfortunately weren't able to make it over to meet you all in person due to the snowfall - but we promise to organise another trip over the coming months.
Tuesday 27th also marked the first ever session of the Channel Islands Alteryx User Group! Hosted at the Digital Jersey Hub, it was wonderful to see so many existing users come down with such enthusiasm for their work using Alteryx.
We're in the process organising another Alteryx User Group session for May to reconvene, share your experiences and ideas and of course to meet with the lovely guys from Alteryx themselves!
To register your interest, please visit our Meetup.com site by clicking here , where you'll be able to receive notifications of all the up and coming sessions.
Alteryx are over visiting our Jersey clients again, so we are taking the opportunity for another soiree upstairs at Project 52 ; 12-14 Waterloo Lane, just press the buzzer !
Great achievement for our data partner Alteryx, beating the once invincible Tableau into second place.
It's interesting that Alteryx moved in the recent Magic Quadrant reports on Advanced Analytics and Business Intelligence from not being sufficiently specialised on complex servers or visualisation respectively.
This award shows that they deliver the tools that businesses need to quickly deliver real world data solutions, as our clients are showing.
Great surprise for us yesterday to be awarded Rookie Partner of the Year.
Thanks to the team, and to all of our clients.
Trebles all round...
Ben, Dan and Dave are off to Alteryx Inspire conference in London, September with some clients.
Judging by last year, it will be a full-on few days of seeing new developments from the Alteryx team, hearing about real world use cases from businesses, meeting other partners and lots of fun - we will qualify for the Alteryx grand Prix in 2018 after a near miss this year; data workflows against the clock !
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This month I return to a topic that I touched on previously, Artificial Intelligence (“AI”).
Recently I gave a talk to the Highlands business breakfast discussing how technology is going to affect jobs, and the education our next generation will need to prepare them for this new World. I had written about this last year, but thought I would check recent information.
I was amazed by how much has changed, particularly that the estimate that 25% of US jobs will be automated in the next 20 years has since been updated to 47%. In China that is 77% !
In the UK RBS recently announced that they will be using so called computer “robo advisers” to provide investment advice to anyone with assets under £250k, in the process cutting 550 wealth management jobs.
More widely reported, the British designed Google Deep Mind last week beat a world expert at the Chinese game of Go.
It’s interesting that a computer can beat a human at a game, but relies on a human to move the pieces and doesn’t actually realise it is playing a game at all just running through huge combinations of potential moves.
This shows the difference between pattern identification, which computers are very good at and getting better, and true consciousness. There is much speculation about how long it’s going to take for computers to become aware of their own existence, what’s known as “The Singularity” and a “Takeoff”.
At this point computers will be able to redesign and build themselves, and is estimated to happen in the period of year 2029 to 2045.
From this point on the possibilities and dangers put forward by scientists and futurologists feel more like movie summaries, reflecting the theory that horror film plots reflect society’s fears.
Risk - Private corporations may not share their AI for commercial reasons, causing great risk to us all – see Terminator and Robocop.
Risk - One of the first potential uses for sentient AI will be space exploration, but we have to be careful about them coming back to Earth smarter than us – see Blade Runner.
Risk - A bug in AI code may lead computers to break Asimov’s laws and kill humans – see lots of films including 2001, I Robot, War Games and Dr Strangelove.
The doomsday scenario is that AI outstrips our capabilities to the extent that they will only need us as amusing pets reflecting their organic origins, much as we feel when we see Guernseymen.
There are several startups in Jersey that will be building AI solutions, and whilst we don’t need to immediately fear time travelling robots it’s vital that conversations take place about how AI will be controlled in the human interest.
Last week I asked if 73 women enter Wimbledon, how many matches would need to be played to find the winner ? It’s a good interview question; you don’t need to remember a particular answer and see someone’s problem solving approach. Since it’s a straight knockout competition everyone except the winner loses a match, so in our case we need 72 matches to find the winner.
For this article I thought I would reflect on the effects of cloud computing platforms on our business lives, and the changes that this drives in technology.
There is an old cliché of a traveller lost in rural Ireland asking a passing local how to get to Dublin “Well, I wouldn’t start from here”. Setting up a company from scratch gives one the opportunity to start again without any baggage so I decided to try to set up everything.
Apocryphally someone who represents themselves in court has a fool for a client. Specialists in the areas that I have done myself are fully entitled to shake their heads and suck their teeth !
However, I thought I would share what was easy to do and where one definitely needs to get advice from an expert.
Firstly, few organisations actually require much computer hardware other than laptop/desktop computers, wifi and a leased scanner/printer. Businesses may require specialist hardware or to keep some data on island, but common requirements such as Office tools, email and document storage are best sourced from one of the numerous cloud computing providers. It took half an hour to set up my full set of tools on Office 365 that now costs me £15 per month, the admin tools are easy to use, and there are lots of video and text tutorials explaining how to do it.
For accounting I use xero.com, with advice from Purpose.je. Whilst I initially got some of the data feeds and accounting entries wrong, these are easy to resolve and monitor by professionals going forward who can spend their time giving business advice.
For a website I went with Squarespace.com, one of several cloud self service web design platforms after advice from greenlight. I will definitely be getting help on design and search engine integration, but building the first version is about getting the content to a serviceable state without endless rounds of editing via email. The platform costs $8 per month including hosting.
These platforms won’t replace professionals, but local experts need to be ready to select and implement them for their clients or risk losing them entirely to off island competition.
So, Happy New Year to you all, and I hope that no-one attempted to solve the Christmas puzzle based on the truncated first attempt caused by some printing press problems. Thank you to the JEP for reprinting the article and hopefully saving some pulled out hair.
In case you missed it, the full puzzle (and other articles from this series, plus other pieces of hopeful interest) can be found at http://www.continuum.je/blog-posts/.
There were a few right answers, some wrong ones and some outright guesses – you know who you are !
I’ve posted the full answer in a comment to the December blog post (webpage as above) but if you can remember the answer is that the vicar is 49.
The beauty of the puzzle is that the order of questions and answers between the verger and the vicar provide additional information that can’t be expressed as an equation but only as logic that provides clues to removing potential solutions to the puzzle.
This kind of problem solving is the most important skill for people in technology to possess rather than learning this language of that, and to have the discipline to remember to think before charging into solving the problem.
It’s very common, and I am sure all developers have been guilty of this as I have, for someone to start writing code as soon as any part of the requirement has been communicated.
This is because it is very satisfying for us technologists to write code and to “get on” with building something, “making the magic happen” to the amazement of all around.
However, if this is only informed by part of the problem then there is absolutely no chance of it being correct and useful in the long term.
This seems obvious if one is to compare building systems to building houses, and a developer (property, not coder, Donald Trump not Dilbert) were to dig some foundations without seeing the full plans for the house. Highly unlikely to be fit for purpose, either the wrong shape, not dee enough or too deep.
You wouldn’t build a house without an architect I would hope, nor would you proceed without getting prior approval from planning (that appears not to be quite so universal in Jersey, but bear with me) nor would you consider the design finished until you knew all of the potential inhabitants and their needs and requirements. Why are systems different ?
A very interesting business book that I was recommended (thank you !) is “Maverick!” by Ricardo Semler, the story of how a self-confessed spoilt son took on the family business in Brazil and went on to pretty much change everything about it from doing away with job titles, filing, offices and the corporate structure to introducing self-set salaries. Great fun, although funnily enough I don’t agree about getting rid of the computers !
It definitely bears reading, although like many business books information on what happened to the company after the period of the book isn’t so easy to come by. However, something that stuck with me was the parable whereby three stone cutters are asked what they do. The first said he cut stones, it was a tough job but it was a living. The second answered that he used special techniques to cut stones in an exceptional way. The third smiled and answered “I build cathedrals”.
To continue the theme of lateral thinking puzzles, if 73 women were in the main draw at Wimbledon (no qualifiers), how many matches would need to be played to find the winner ?
If you can’t get it, don’t worry for in the words of this month’s malapropism “It’s all water under the fridge” (ET)
Apologies to anyone who wanted to try to solve the puzzle in the JEP, sadly they truncated the article at a critical point. Numpties. Full article ...
So this is Christmas, and what have you done ?
For those who complain that this column is too complicated, there is even a Christmas puzzle at the end.
If you are short of a present, Martin Ford’s book “Rise of the Robots” that I have been plugging just won the FT/McKinsey business book of the year. In case the new Adele or Coldplay albums aren’t bleak enough, giving this dystopian vision to an accountant guarantees tears before the Queen’s Speech.
It has also been called to my attention that there are still a couple of Tech BS Bingo phrases I haven’t included. Apologies, this is an oversight.
To remedy this, let me introduce the “Internet of Things” – no, not Wikipedia but essentially everything being connected to the web.
People of a certain age will fondly hark back to Tomorrow’s World episodes presented by hairy men in beige flares demonstrating curtains opening themselves at a certain time, the fridge telling you to buy more milk or your car telling the kettle to boil itself since you are nearly home.
Fortunately it is a lot more useful than that, if not more fun. One of the most interesting developments is Smart Cities, being led by Songko in South Korea and Santander in Spain. Closer to home is the newly announced CityVerve project in Manchester, a collaboration between tech firms, universities and local government to deliver intelligent street lighting, smart parking, health monitoring and air quality sensing.
Segueing from a Northern Powerhouse to a northern Powerhouse (clunk), it could be argued that Jersey Electricity’s smart meter network is among several similar initiatives in Jersey, mygov.je and a smart parking solution, albeit uncoordinated. Maybe Santa will empty his sack to give Jersey a combination of Smart City and Estonia, with all of us (gasp) having a single identifying card that allows us to access, and be given, services with the utmost efficiency and quality. Becalmed eGov has been a story of the technology year, but we can but hope…
And so to the puzzle. No cheating, please try and remember what it was like when you had to engage your brain rather than Google !
Hint – every word is important, and no there aren’t any typos !
One day after the morning service the verger (who had not attended) stopped the vicar.
Verger: “How many people in the Congregation?"
Verger “How old were they ?"
Vicar “The product of their ages is 2,450”
Verger “You have to tell me more”
Vicar “The sum of their ages comes to twice your own age"
The next day the verger met the vicar again:
Verger “I need more information”
Vicar “None of them is older than I am”
The verger then told the vicar the ages and got it right.
How old is the Vicar?
The answer next year, and if you can’t get it, in the words of the malapropism of the month, "Don't shoot the passenger" (HB)
Merry Change Freeze and a Happy New Year.